Sara Swanson

DNR considers new firewood policy for Michigan State Parks

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Emerald ash borer. Tens of millions of ash trees have died in the last decade and a half from the emerald ash borer.

In any given week in July, it’s likely someone you know is camping, and it’s possible you are planning a camping trip still, yourself this summer. If the campground is in a Michigan State Park, this may be the last summer you will be allowed to bring in outside firewood. Currently the DNR is considering implementing a policy that will take effect in 2018, requiring that all firewood used in Michigan state parks or other DNR-managed lands must be bought at the park, from an approved outside vendor or be certified as heat-treated for emerald ash borer.

Why is the DNR doing this? Because Michigan’s trees are under attack. Invasive insects and diseases have killed millions of trees in Michigan – often after hitching a ride on firewood transported by campers and other park-goers, even a short distance, from one part of the state to another is a common way for these invasive species to infest new locations.

The DNR has cited invasive insects emerald ash borers and hemlock woolly adelgids as well as the fungal disease, oak wilt as examples of the invasive species they are trying to slow the spread of. The emerald ash borer has killed at least tens of millions of ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the 8.7 billion ash trees throughout North America. Once a tree is infected, it dies within 10 years. The emerald ash borer outbreak in North America is centered in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. In fact, the first infestation in the United States was confirmed in Canton, Michigan. Similarly, hemlock woolly adelgids are killing off Eastern hemlocks. Oak wilt is similar to Dutch elm disease and threatens all oaks, but especially red oaks, killing red oaks off in the same summer they are infected.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid have infected Eastern Hemlocks.

If you are camping this summer, following these firewood guidelines from the DNR can help keep you from speeding up the spread of these infestations:

  • Buy firewood at your destination; at most campgrounds, it is available on the premises, or buy from nearby vendors who sell firewood certified as heat-treated.
  • When purchasing at local stores and roadside stands, look for firewood that is heat treated.
  • Do not leave firewood for other campers. Burn all wood on-site; do not take it home or to your next destination.
  • For day trips that include a cookout, bring charcoal or a cookstove instead of firewood.

To provide feedback or ask questions regarding the proposed firewood policy, please email DNR-ParksAndRecreation@michigan.gov.

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